Infertility affects you even after you have children.

Infertility

There is a tight sisterhood of women who had to be prodded, poked, examined and embarrassed in order to conceive their children.  We all had visions of how it would happen and I have yet to meet a woman who saw something that looks like a camera on a dildo being part of that vision.  I remember being a high school senior, in love for the first time and scared to death of becoming pregnant.  Every precaution was taken (except abstinence – sorry mom) to ensure I did not get pregnant.  I recall even saying, “I don’t understand these girls (in my high school) getting pregnant.  It’s so easy to NOT get pregnant.”  Little did I know that phrase would stick with me for years to come.  It, indeed, WAS easy for me to NOT get pregnant.  It was the elusive flip side of that  coin I couldn’t seem to achieve.

For those of you who know me, this following chronicle is one you know and could probably recite by heart.  For my new readers and lurkers out there, this is new.  But, it is a tale I will always include in my life story.  It changes who you are….long after the days of living for cycle day 30 is over.

I knew from early childhood I wanted to be a Mommy.  Nothing earth shattering there.  Most little girls who play with dolls dream of one day having their very own baby to take care of.  When I finally found Mr. Tolerable (Mr. Right) I thought I would have the dream scenario.  You know, “First comes love, then comes marriage.  Then comes Bobby with a baby carriage.”  After a year with no contraception and also no baby we decided to get our baby making parts checked out.  I didn’t have a gynecologist at the time because we had recently moved to a new town.  So, after doing some research online I decided to skip the gyno and move strait to a specialist; someone called an reproductive endocrinologist (RE).  “First things first” Dr. B said.  Mr. Tolerable’s swimmers would be looked at.  Results came back and said although he didn’t exactly have Micheal Phelps in there, they would be able to impregnate me.  A part of me was sort of disappointed in this news.  Only because this meant it was ME…

Next came my turn.  First, enough vials of blood to feed a zoo full of bats.  Next came the “dildo cam” as we liked to call it.  I remember my introduction to this thing.  They had told me to come in on cycle day 1 but I didn’t realize what they would be doing.  I get down to my bum and a sheet of tissue paper.  The nurse walks in and sits down on the small stool on wheels next to me and gets to her control station with buttons and switches and lights.  I swear it looked like the helm of a yacht.  Then she calmly opens a Trojan condom and my eyes grow large as she rolls it down onto a large, long probe.  I shudder out, “Um…I….I am ……on my period.”  Never to be detoured my date (AKA Dildo Cam) already knew that and that’s exactly when he wanted to see me.  Holy That’s-Disgusting Batman!  The nurse asks me to lay back and assume the position.  Up the hoo-haa we go…..

The nurse pushes buttons with one hand at her control center while moving her joystick up my naughty parts with the other.  I wondered if she had practiced patting her head and rubbing her belly at the same time a lot as a child to prepare for this job.  Up on an ultrasound screen it looks like another planet.  I ask what she is looking for and she point out my ovaries, the follicles (or lack there of) inside of them.  I was instantly fascinated and forgot about Mr. Cam down there and started to relax and ask if everything looked OK.  The nurse said it looked like I had a cyst (GASP) but not one that won’t go away on it’s own (oooh).  But, that did mean that I had probably had a follicle the month before (GASP) so that was a good sign (oooh).  All these words were foreign to me, “cyst, follicle, endometrein lining.”

The last step in my list of exams were two surgical procedures which would be preformed at the same time; a hysteroscopy and laprascopy.  I was put under general anesthesia so it was actually the easiest of the tests for me.  I got pictures of my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes up close and personal.  How many women can say that, right?  Psha!  Only women who have been in my shoes will understand this next sentence – I was hoping they would find something wrong but Dr. B came back smiling saying, “Everything looks great.  I don’t see any problems at all.”  So, what he hell is the problem!!??

The only thing we could find explaining why I wasn’t getting knocked up was my hormone levels.  Turns out I had the testosterone of a 14 year old boy (which explained my hairy arms, the need to wax my lip and my sex drive….funny how the first two make the 3rd one hard to obtain huh?).  So, Dr. B suggested Injectable gonadatropins to fix me (a fancy word for medicines to make my hormones more like that of a normal woman).  This meant days of shots followed by more dates with Dildo Cam and more blood draws.  At the end of all of this I would have something called an Inter-Uterine Insemination or IUI (think turkey baster).  We did two IUI’s with each cycle to make sure we covered all our basis and didn’t miss the eggs that I had produced and released.

Fast forward a year and 4 more cycles later (I had to take several months off between cycles due to cysts) and still childless.  By now I am exhausted, frustrated, hopeless, and broke.  Dr. B said he wouldn’t suggest doing any more IUI’s and that my next step should be InVitro Fertilization (IVF).  Oh, and that will be $12-15,000 thank you very much.  Like most insurances, ours did not cover infertility treatments so that meant all that was out-of-pocket (or out of our ass as we felt since we didn’t know were we were supposed to pull it out of).  I was deflated.  I didn’t know how we would ever come up with the money.

I was mad as hell because I kept hearing stories of “Oops” pregnancies.  So-and-so’s daughter who’s 15 is pregnant.  You all know the stories….they found a baby in the dumpster, etc.  I just wanted to know why I couldn’t have a baby.  I wanted to have a face-to-face with God and scream at him and tell him he was an evil, unjust, and spiteful God.  My husband and I would be great parents.  I just knew we had so much love to give a child yet he was giving children to people who didn’t even want them!  This was a hard time to go to baby showers, weddings or ever Wal-Mart.  My craving for a baby was fuled by the pregnant women everywhere that my radar just seemed to find.

My husband was such a saint during this time for me.  I know he didn’t know how to comfort me but he did the best he could.  He would say, “We WILL have a baby.”  We took a year off with no procedures or visits to the RE to save every penny we had so that we could do one IVF.  That year was the roughest time I’ve ever had in my life.  I felt useless.  I hated my job.  I hated my life.  I loved my husband but I wanted to be a Mommy.  That’s all I wanted.  But, I was determined.  So, for the next 13 months we saved money like mad.  Clipping coupons, washing in all cold water, eating at home more.  Dave Ramsey has nothing on the type of “Beans and Rice.  Rice and Beans” life we were living.

Finally, we had enough to start our IVF process.  And boy is it a long process!  I was to call the nurse on the first day of my period on the month BEFORE we were going to start my injections.  This is due to the long process it took for me to get my medicine ordered and get them delivered.  I was so psyched to start my period that July.  That meant I would be beginning this long awaited process to get my baby.  When I began to cramp, have acne and spot (the way I had done my entire life once a month since I was 13) I called my RE’s office and gave them the go ahead, “ORDER MY MEDS!”  I shrieked.  The nurse says, “Is this cycle day 1?”  I said, “Well, not yet but tomorrow I’m sure.”  The nurse sort of paused and said, “You need to take a home pregnancy test (HPT) or just wait until your first day of flow and call back.  The meds are non-refundable and we don’t want to order them if you are pregnant now do we?”  The chiperness in her voice was sickening and I recall pulling the phone from my ear and mouthing, “What the fuck?”.  How dare she say that to me?  I had been trying to get pregnant for 3 years by now and a year of that was with her office’s help.  But, in order to move things along I ran to a local drug store and bought a generic HPT.  The cheapest I could find since this was money I was supposed to be spending on IVF stuff.

When I got home from the store I immediately went to the bathroom and peed on the damn stick – something I had done so many times I actually felt out of place just peeing in a toilet – and waited.  Instead of going in the other room, I just put the seat down on the toilet and read a magazine while I waited for it to tell me I wasn’t pregnant.  I had the test sitting next to my head as I was reading.  I kind of got into this article I was reading and almost forgot about the test but when I looked over just to make sure it was still there I had to do a double take.  What was this?  Two lines?  I dropped the magazine, grabbed the test, and rummaged through the trash to find the box the test came in.  I wanted to be sure what this particular brand’s method of saying “Not pregnant” was because I thought I had just found a new brand where two lines meant “not pregnant.”  But, after examination……I…..was…….pregnant?  I stood up and just stared at the wall.  I don’t know for how long but I was in shock.

Then I ran to my bedroom, fell to my knees, and cried and laughed.  I was delirious.  I was having an out-of-body experience I’m sure because the next couple of hours are a blur.  I almost remember them as a fly on the wall, watching myself.  I walked from my bedroom, down the hall to the kitchen.  I started just walking like a zombie around the house opening cabinets and staring at the plates for a while.  Then I would shut it and open the refrigerator and stare.  Walk in the living room and just stare at the TV (which was off).  I kept finding myself back in the bathroom just staring at the test.  I was in complete disbelief.  I would scream on the top of my lungs, jump around and then stop and rub my belly and cry.  How long this went on I am not completely sure.

I then remembered, “I have to call the nurse back.”  It’s been an hour (or so) since I took the test and the first person I’m telling is my nurse.  When she answered the phone I didn’t introduce myself. I just blurted out through tears and laughs, “There are two lines!!!!”  She says, “Excuse me?  Who is this?”  I said, “This is Bobby and there are two lines!!”  Still confused but trying to match my excitement she says, “That’s great….could you tell me your last name please.”  I do and she is looking at my chart I can tell because she didn’t recall the conversation we had had just an hour before about me needed to buy a pregnancy test.  I am finally able to tell her who I am and what the hell I am saying.  “DO NOT ORDER MY MEDS!”  She tells me to come in so they can draw some blood and check my levels.

Now, I know I probably was not in any condition to get behind the wheel of a 3000 lbs missile and drive an hour but I had to!  That drive was a weird one.  My husband called during this voyage.  What could I say?  I didn’t want to tell him over the phone so I tried to lie.

Me:  “Hello”

Hubby:  “Hey, what ‘cha doing?

Me, “Driving to Mom’s for lunch.”

Hubby: “Where are you?”

Me:  I tell him the town I am in.

Hubby:  “What?  That’s the wrong direction to go to your Mom’s.”

Me:  “Oh shit….you’re right!  I was listening to a book on tape and got distracted.”

Hubby:  “Are you ok?”

Me:  “Yea, I’m just a spazz.  Let me get off here and call my Mom and tell her I’ll be late…or I might not go at all…”

Hubby:  “You sure everything’s ok.”

Me:  “Yea.  I’ll call you later.”

Hubby:  “Don’t be gone too long.  You are supposed to watch your nephews today.”

Me:  “Oh yea!  I think I’ll just call Mom and tell her I’ll come some other time.”

Hubby:  “You forgot you were babysitting too?  Are you sure you are ok?  Did you mow today?  Are you feeling dehydrated?”

Me:  Laughing, “No, I’m just scatterbrain.  Talk to you later.  Bye, love you!”

I HAD TO GET OFF THE PHONE BEFORE HE FIGURED ME OUT!

To make an already extremely long story shorter.  I get my blood drawn and head home immediately to wait for the phone call to give me the news.  When I arrived home Mr. Tolerable, my husband, was home.  But, I had lucked out – he was asleep on the couch.  I didn’t have to avoid his eyes or have him look at me like an insane person.  “One less thing.” I thought.  I busied myself and waited for the phone to ring.

Once it did I took the call outside so he wouldn’t hear.  The nurses exact words were, “Yes, you are INDEED pregnant.”  She then told me some numbers, said something about calling in a prescription for progesterone supplements and prenatal vitamins and then hung up.  I stood outside with a grin so wide on my face I imagine I looked like Smiling Bob. “Ok, Ok deep breath.” I thought to myself.

How do I tell Jim?  How do I wake him up first of all?  Our golden retriever, Ripley, helped me with the latter.  When I went out on the deck to take my phone call she had escaped to the backyard.  This would not be a big deal except the gate was somehow left open and she was gone!

“Wake up. Ripley is gone!”  (what a great way to wake him up from an afternoon nap huh?)

He jumped up like he had been shot from a cannon.  We hopped in the truck and headed to the park down the road (her usual location when she gets out) and found her immediately.  Once back home I knew I had him awake and I could barely contain myself.  I turned the TV off and sat on the couch.  He looks at me and says, “WHAT’S GOING ON?  YOU ARE ACTING CRAZY TODAY!”  With my big smile I say, “Come over here so I can talk to you.”  and pat the couch next to me.  I told him by saying, “We are pregnant.”  We hugged each other, we laughed, we cried and then Jim held me and said a prayer of thanks to God and also to watch over me and the baby.  It was such a touching moment.  After that prayer Jim leans his forehead to mine and says, “Is it a boy or girl?”  We laugh…we find out later…..IT’S A BOY.

Fast forward 3 years.  We now have two children born a year and 4 days apart “naturally” (not the birth part, the conception part).  But, to this day I call myself someone who suffered from infertility.  It has changed me as a wife, friend, daughter, and most of all a mother.  I know that women who become mothers say that they love and adore their children.  I am sure this is true.  But, when I talk to women who didn’t know if they would ever be mothers, there is a different level of love.  I don’t know how to put it.  It is just the ability to look at moments that you otherwise might have seen as a negative and cherish it.  You have a bit more patience?  More appreciation?  More of a sense that you are blessed to be this child’s Mommy?  I don’t know exactly what it is…but it changes you forever.

I wouldn’t give up the lessons I learned during that time as an infertile woman for a million dollars, and I wouldn’t give you a red cent to go through it again.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jim the Tolerable  •  Jun 30, 2008 @3:47 pm

    Things were so weird the day you told me about Jackson that I would not have been surprised to hear you claim to be the Queen of England!

  2. Nic  •  Jun 30, 2008 @4:42 pm

    I was absolutely riveted to your story…a lot of it rang chords with me, although our #1 was IVF. You took me right back to my zoned out wandering around the house after getting the first pos for Alice.

    Thank you for sharing that, it was thoroughly enjoyable, every word

  3. Kim  •  Jul 5, 2008 @7:48 am

    I remember this story! What a great one to share with the kiddos one day!

  4. SAHW  •  Jul 11, 2008 @8:35 pm

    I’m so glad you found me! I am hoping and praying that I will “be” you very soon! I loved your story…what an awesome story…so many things I could identify with, but of course I haven’t crossed over to the other side yet. I’ll be looking forward to reading your blog from now on!

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  • Why I Write this Stuff

    My children called me Bobby when they were toddlers due to not being able to prounounce "Mommy." They are now 7 and 8 years old and I am Mommy. But my real name is Mandy. I just do this so I can keep in touch with the REAL me. Being a Bobby is a dream I thought I may never realize and I do not take it for granted. I homeschool (more specifically unschool) my two children and it's easy to lose yourself in the tasts of the day. I just want to make sure that after 19 or so years have passed,and my kids have moved out, I'm not stuck looking in the mirror and squinting in hopes of seeing Mandy again.